[For more F-bomb cases, see the links at the end of this post.]
Old Murphy pleaded guilty to one count of distributing cocaine and one count of using a firearm during a drug trafficking crime. Murphy got 130 months for distributing cocaine (just 7 months less than the maximum sentence allowed) and 60 months for the trafficking – to be served consecutively (190 months total). Murphy was especially displeased with the 130 months. “At the conclusion of the [sentencing] hearing, the following exchange occurred:
MURPHY: You should have just gave me the other damn seven–the other seven months is what you should have did, stinky mother fucker.
THE COURT: Mr. Benya–Mr. Murphy, you are summarily found in contempt of this court-
MURPHY: Just give me the other seven months.
THE COURT: You’re summarily found to be in contempt of this court. I sentence you to six months to be served consecutive to any other sentence imposed.
MURPHY: You should have just gave me the other seven months is what you should have done.
THE COURT: Mr. Murphy, I find you again in contempt of this court and you’re now summarily found in contempt for a second time and you’ll serve an additional six months consecutive to any sentence-
MURPHY: What about that? What about that? Serve that, mother fucker. . . .
THE COURT: Mr. Stone, just a minute. Mr. Murphy-
THE COURT: You just gave the finger to the court. That will be a third contempt of court and that’s six-
MURPHY: Add another one to it.
THE COURT: –six more months at the end of your sentence. Well, that’s a quick year and a half.
Stinky mo’ fo’ out of the gate? Murphy was found to have committed three separate contempts, and was sentenced to an additional 18 months, to be tacked on to his 190 months. He appealed. What do you think the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled?
The court held that the word “behavior” in the contempt statute was ambiguous, and that “the rule of lenity dictates that the ambiguity be resolved in Murphy’s favor.” So chop 12 months off of that 208 months. The case is U.S. v. Murphy, 326 F.2d 501 (4th Cir. 2003). If you want to read the opinion, click here.